Let Them Have Their Great White Hope


So there’s a minor tempest in a teapot at the moment because the Republicans’ racism slip is showing again. Shiny new Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins uttered a very Freudian slip at one of her public addresses, suggesting that “Republicans are struggling right now to find the great white hope.” Brava, Congresswoman! Way to step in it right out of the box. Predictably, the media’s given a collective gasp to show that it is shocked, shocked I tell you, that there is any whiff of open racism in the party’s agenda. Keith Olbermann has called for the congresswoman to face “some sort of sanction”, and the rest of the left is practically salivating for its pound of flesh. And of course, the congresswoman is hastening to fauxpologize and clarify that she didn’t mean to invoke deadly race riots and racist history, no, never, ‘course not.

Y’know what? I’m tired of this.

I want the Republicans to just stop dancing around the issue. Drop all the dogwhistles and “I know you are but what am I” crap; ditch the dramatic irony of using racists to cry racism. I want them to just come out and say that this is what they want:

Image from the Republican National Convention, showing hundreds of enraptured white men, no visible women or PoC

From sea to bright, white, shining sea.

Because if that’s what they want, fine. There’s nowhere near enough white men in this country to win them another election. Once they’ve alienated all the PoC, all the women, all the GLBTQIs, everybody who doesn’t look and act like them, they’ll have relegated themselves to political obscurity. Then they won’t regain power and screw up our economy again, get us into another dumbass war, threaten to turn us into a theocracy, or make the rest of us feel ashamed of being American.

So I hope they find their Great White Hope. I hope they embrace their racism, and their neo-Southern Strategy, until it kills them. Then we can relegate them to the bin of history, and maybe a sane conservative party will take its place — or better still, several sane new parties. And maybe then we can actually start trying to become, y’know, post-racial. (Whatever the hell that is.)

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Let Them Have Their Great White Hope

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8 Responses to Let Them Have Their Great White Hope

  1. 1
    RonF says:

    Talking about the “Great White Hope” is in fact real dumb and raises legitimate questions about the speaker in this context.

    However; if the Republicans have alienated all those people and can only get white men to vote for them (and over a certain age, at that), how is it that their most recent candidate got 48% of the vote against the most charismatic and historical candidate since JFK?

  2. 2
    PG says:


    White people are 79.8% of the U.S. population. They make up an even higher percentage of people eligible to vote, due to the large portion of Latinos and Asians who are not citizens (e.g. my uncle has been in the U.S. for 25 years but is a permanent resident; he wants to retain his original citizenship), and a penal system that disproportionately marks black and Latinos as felons while allowing felons to be disenfranchised. If you estimate that white people are about 85% of eligible voters, and factor in that people are more likely to vote the older they get, it’s not that hard for Republicans to depend mostly on white men over 45 and still get 48%.

    Of course, as the non-white population continues to grow, obtain citizenship and integrate into the political mainstream (i.e. participate in national elections); and as people who are currently young retain some of the values that make them liberal today (e.g. support same-sex marriage) while the GOP sticks to its existing values (treating gay people like they need to be “cured”), that percentage is going to keep shrinking.

  3. 3
    sylphhead says:

    McCain actually got a little less than 46% of the vote, actually. Obama got 53%. 51-48 or so was probably the split on election night when the outcome became inevitable and you stopped watching, but many, many primarily urban votes were yet to be counted at that stage. Don’t effectively say these voters don’t count when the final count of record is so easy to look up.

  4. 4
    nojojojo says:


    I imagine a goodly number of white women voted for McCain — yeah, in spite of his noted contempt for women. A lot of them seemed to think that Palin represented some positive shift away from that contempt on his part. ::rolls eyes heavenward:: And even some PoC and GLBTQIs and so forth probably voted for him. Remember that McCain was marginally more centrist than most of the party base — which is why he picked Palin, to help him appeal more to that base. I think that on his own, McCain did a better job of sounding like something other than an “all white guys! all! the time!!” candidate, and he probably reaped the benefit of that.

    Even so, I’m not sure future Republican candidates will be able to do so. Not after much more of this neo-Southern-Strategy behavior on their part; they’re really working hard to permanently brand themselves as The Party Of Disaffected White Guys And A Few Token Others.

  5. 5
    PG says:

    What nojojojo said. In particular, McCain had a good track record with Latino voters. He is popular with them in Arizona; he not only doesn’t think La Raza is a racist organization, he’s given keynote speeches at their meetings; he was in favor of immigration reform that wouldn’t be heinously punitive.

    After the GOP’s behavior toward Sotomayor and all the stirring up of the racist underbelly that brought on (any time Tom Tancredo is on TV, count on another 10% drop in favorability among Latino voters), however, the efforts that the McCain/Bush/Rove wing of the party made toward recognizing demographic reality and appealing to Latino voters has been wasted.

  6. 6
    chingona says:

    I can actually believe that she did not know the origin of the phrase. But she ought to have. And if Republicans ever want to stop being the party of old racist white dudes, it would behoove them to learn a thing or two.

    Something a commenter at Ta-Nehisi’s place pointed out that I thought was pretty astute – usually the phrase is used ironically, to indicate the ridiculousness and futility of placing your hope in such a figure. All the “Great White Hopes” that went up against Jack Johnson lost their fights.

  7. 7
    chingona says:


  8. 8
    Christina says:

    The 2012 presidential election is not that far off. It is interesting that a party namely the Republican Party which comprises mostly of and looks after the rights of heterosexual white males is yet again becoming a force to be reckoned with.

    For this extremely racist, sexist, homophobic white male party to become so strong it will need some support from women and minority groups.

    The problem that may arise in 2012 is that women and minorities may feel let down by the Democrats and as a result vote for the Republicans as a form of demonstrating their anger to the Democrats.

    One concern that I have noticed from women and minorities is that they feel that the Democrats often try to appeal to the white male especially at election time and as a result they feel alienated by the party that is suppose to look after their issues.